New chapter

16 Sep

So I’m no longer an employee.

I left work last Friday and have a week off before I become a student again, so for these few days, I’m savouring the lie-ins, reading in my bed instead of a smelly train carriage and blanking everything else out to really focus on my writing.  I’ve been devouring book after book on how to edit a manuscript and my mind is brimming with plenty of helpful tips that make the process of reading through my first draft far less daunting.  One of the best books on this that I’ve found so far is ‘Self-editing for fiction writers – how to edit yourself into print’ by Browne and King, which has loads of great pointers on things to consider and examples showing you the right and wrong ways to do things.

Change is always a little unsettling, but I had been ready to take this next step for a while.  And since it is a period of endings, and new beginnings I thought I would evaluate what I have learnt this last year and four months as a working woman.

1.  Appearances can be deceptive – yes, yes, a tired cliche for sure but this was something that I experienced first-hand when I started work.  I was paired with someone I initially hated and thought I would never get on with.  He was a lot older than me, set in his ways, definitely not the most politically correct person and I found him stubborn and his controversial views antagonistic.  In fact, when he first started at the firm as my senior, I was looking for ways to leave – I couldn’t see beyond my frustration.  However, with time, I began to accept certain things about him – the job climate out there was tough and I knew it wouldn’t look good to only stay at a company for a couple of months – and just got on with my job.  Soon, I found myself chatting to him, normally, without any sarcasm or irritation, and we began working well together.  He saw that I was hardworking and astute, and before I knew it, we had established a very unlikely friendship.   In fact, he became one of the people I was closest to at work and I was incredibly touched last week when he presented me with a beautiful Sheaffer pen as a goodbye present, because he knew I loved writing.  Looking back, I realise I can be an incredibly judgemental person – I tend to let my emotions cloud me and my hotheadedness means that I often don’t look beyond a person’s exterior, their gruff facade and then I end up (in this case, nearly) missing out on discovering the genuine person underneath.  And that would be my loss.

2.  There are some people I just have nothing in common with.  Our office was next to a number of other offices and initially I would try to be friendly with everyone.  I maintained this cheery facade for a good few months, trying to make conversations with everyone while I happened to be making teas in the communal kitchen.  After a while though, I grew tired and resentful at often having to be the person to initiate things.  I found myself questioning why I was making conversation/ trying to fit in with people that were so clearly not like me – ‘lads’ who constantly call women ‘birds’ and women who talk openly about their sexual antics.  People are free to talk about what they want to but initially I would berate myself for not ‘fitting in’, not being able to hold a conversation with so many people at work but then I realised, in the crudest terms, I don’t give a flying f**k about not being like these people.  I got over it and enjoyed resisting the urge to fill in awkward silences.. indeed, the less I tried, the more other people seemed to.

3. Writing is what I want to do.  Strangely, I only realised this in the last year or so while I was working.  Much of my work did involve writing articles and press releases which I suppose gave me more confidence in my writing.  After all, if the articles I was writing on behalf of my clients were good enough to be published online or in financial trade publications, then surely my writing wasn’t completely inane and rubbish.  Propelled by this realisation, I decided to learn as much as I could about writing and I’m pretty excited to improve more and more.

4.  Getting older is not something to be feared.  I used to hate birthdays.  I hated the idea of getting older.  It only made me think of the things I haven’t accomplished, compared with all those people my age and younger who had.  But this was a ridiculous way of looking at things. I have learnt that comparing myself with others is never good and it only breeds resentment, envy and insecurity.  Not only this but it stops me from focusing on what I’ve accomplished myself.  So, I allow myself to admire people for their various accomplishments, style, confidence but I don’t get weighed down by it all anymore which is freeing.  There’s also something really nice about getting older – you feel less pressure to be like everyone else, look like everyone else, enjoy what everyone else enjoys.  You grow into your individuality and that’s lovely.

5.  Letting go of the past frees up the present.  I used to be one of those people who would constantly harp back to past times, whether it would be mourning my skinny adolescent frame, reminiscing about former flames, contemplating ‘what ifs’.  But I saw everything through rose-tinted glasses.  The reality was that back then I was skinny because I was ill; he was a narcissist, highly insensitive and emotionally devoid; and what ifs are futile because I wasn’t in the right state emotionally.  I would have ended up in the mess I found myself in whatever route I had chosen to go down because I hadn’t invested in myself.  So actually, right now, this very moment, is what I should be focusing on instead of imagining things were better than they were.  By always looking back, it’s almost as though I am saying to myself that my life is over which couldn’t be further from the truth.  There are so many opportunities out there but to seize them, one has to first notice them and you can’t notice opportunities when your mind is rooted in the past.

I’m interested to see what my experience as a Masters student will be like.  So far I’ve not been overly impressed by many educational institutions but I’m hoping that as a wiser 24 year old with a greater understanding of what I want from my studies and life in general, I’ll be able to enjoy the experience and learn a lot 🙂

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4 Responses to “New chapter”

  1. Vinay Patel September 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Good stuff, Jade! What are you off to study?

    • jadeinlondon September 26, 2013 at 9:01 am #

      Hey Vinay! I’m studying Health economics, as I want to eventually research into mental health 🙂 but need to continue writing at the same time!! Hope you’re well x

  2. Ginger Dawn September 25, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    I am really enjoying your post. Are you on Facebook or other social media?

    • jadeinlondon September 26, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks! Not on facebook really, but I’m on twitter. My handle is @yapsicles

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